This year's sold-out Best of Washington party gave the buyer what they expected: a soaring venue in the gorgeous National Building Museum and more than 60 different restaurants and bars showcasing some of their delectable treats.
Clearly the names LivingSocial and Washingtonian, with their merger of cutting-edge entrepreneurship and traditional D.C. cool, drive attention in this town.
Of course, mammoth food and drink events such as this one have been imitated to a great degree by other charities -- Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation comes to mind.
Dozens of tables crammed into tiny spaces, executive chefs working on top of sous chefs working on top of dessert chefs, all the while trying to furiously pump out 1,500+ servings of food to a gluttonous crowd.
I started with desserts. Of course, in D.C. you expect to see Georgetown Cupcake, and they were there. But they weren't the best dessert of the night. This was a tie between Cuba Libre's flan and Bibianna's chocolate mousse, made with milk chocolate, gianduja custard, chocolate "krunchies," and hazelnut powder.
Once I hit the cruising altitude of my sugar high, I moved on to the main dishes. Thankfully there weren't a lot of mass-produced bland main dishes like tartares. Nothing wrong with tartares, but at these type of events it seems every chef produces a tartare varietal.
I personally favored the Source's chili pork dumplings. Made with la yu oil and black vinegar, they were light and flavorful. So good, in fact, I had two servings.
Surprisingly the longest line in the entire venue was at Red Hook Lobster Pound. I don't know whether it was the strategic location right near the airy middle of the venue, but there was a constant line of a dozen deep. Good, but not worth the wait.
As for drinks, I didn't see a lot of mixologists. Instead, there were three main drink stations serving the type of reception drink menu you'd expect at a D.C. political function or wedding. Interestingly, most of the alcoholic drinks at the various table stations were beer makers.
Overall, it was a pleasant evening supporting a great charity, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. If you want to come next year, buy your ticket early. This event sells out quickly.